Posts Tagged Bolivia

“Copa- Copacobana….”

We are writing this, having arrived in frigid Puno, Peru and are attempting to whittle away some time as there’s not a whole lot to do here apart from the tours…but thats an experience yet to come and a blog for the future… On that note, we wont be in touch again until early next week, we are headed to the Amazon on Wednesday…

So, Copacobana (thats the Bolivian one), beautiful Copa. It was a fantastic sight after the smog of La Paz!
We left La Paz early in the morning. There was a bit of confusion, as it turns out that the 1st of May is a public holiday (workers day) in Bolivia. Originally, we had been told that we would be picked up from our hostel, which is on the main street. After going down early for breakfast, we noticed that the street was blocked off and there was a marathon taking place..an annual marathon.. Luckily a representative from the bus company came down to collect us and take us the the bus. Everything is uphill in La Paz, so poor old Jo had to lug his enournmous backpack the whole way there (for some reason, he packed an excessive amount of womens clothing and toiletries that havent all been needed… he’ll never learn..). Anyways, it was like a wild goose chase to get to the bus and we collected more and more equally confused backpackers on the way. Very few of us understanding the instructions.. Luckily we got there fine and started our journey fine.. only to stop about 20 minutes later after getting caught in a noisy traffic jam in El Alto just out of La Paz. The street here was also being used for a parade and only 1 lane was being used (which developed into a 5 lane jam of honking busses, trucks, mini vans, taxis and the odd car if it could fit also).. Luckily it only took 2 hours before we were able to move again and 3 hours until we got to Copacobana!

Anyway, enough about the bus trip, as exciting as it was!

Copacobana is a small rural township that sits on the edge of the immense Lake Titicaca. It has a holiday beachy feel to it (well, as long as the suns up… after dark, you realise you’ve been tricked as it cools down to 4 or 5 degrees). As well as the locals and Bolivia’s (landlocked) navy (!), its home to a quite few foreign hippies. Luckily for us, our second day there, was the start of a festival (Fiesta de la Cruz). Many people came from surrounding towns and cities and all paraded the streets dancing and dressed in costume.

Blessing of the dancers

Parade for the fiesta

Most sections of the parade had their own brass band (that somehow managed to play while marching up hills and around town at 3800m)!. It was a great atmosphere and there was lots of alcohol to keep the party going!! We were going to go on a kayak but got absorbed by the festival. We did manage to climb the mountain near the town however and also (surprise surprise) eat at quite a few restaurants!!

Capacobana was cheaper than La Paz, so we splashed out on a hotel vs hostel. The second hotel even had a shower that worked! They have dubious looking electric shower heads with wires coming out to the powerpoint. Doesnt make you feel that comfortable while wet, but Lonley Planet indicates you should only expect a small shock if you come into contact with the shower head, which was a welcome relief from the full electrocution i was expecting!!

Anyway, that was Copacobana. Laid back and sunny!

Top of the hill

7 crosses

Copacobana from the hill
Copacobana from the hill

All in all, we have had a fantastic time and really enjoyed Bolivia!

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La Paz

Before we came to Bolivia, we had heard a lot of weird stuff, lots of warnings read, and lots of travelers tales. The most disturbing was in Mendoza, and Sara was very concerned how we would go! However, we have done ok so far, been reasonably street smart, and endeavored the fumes and the hills. We are only catching the tourist buses, and staying away from anything dodgey. The ATMs all have armed guards now, and we do feel safe here!

We arrived in La Paz early Monday morning of the tourist bus. We where tired, cold, and over it. We knew that our hostel wouldn’t be ready for us, but we went there anyways to dump our stuff. Then we headed out…

La Paz

The town itself is very weird, it is located in a big valley/ravine/gully, and everywhere you look you see houses in the hillsides. We walked all around, saw lots, and was rather unimpressed with how inconvenient it was to have to walk up and down so much. It was almost like you where continuously traversing a hillside, which you where. This added with the ridiculous amount of fumes from old Dodge buses, and the crazy micros, made it a bit of a test. We chilled most of the first day, and had a nice cold shower when we finally got our room!

Tuesday was our big shopping day, and fighting day, but we both endured, did our shopping, looked around a bit more, and enjoyed the beers on tap here at the Hostel. We have also found a local restaurant that has some wicked fruits! Its so nice to be able to have healthy food, just not meat, meat millanesa or pollo… We also went to the Coca museum, learning about the difference between the Coca leaves and cocaine. Bit flavored, but interesting.

This morning, we organised our trip to Copacobana (yet another tourist bus), ate some more fruit, and dealt with the Bolivian postal system (Mom/dad, another parcel on the way, did you get the first one/s from Australia?). We also walked a bit further, to enjoy the views, but there seems to be a big beautification campaign going on, so we didn’t get to enjoy it, we where stopped by construction. We had the pleasure of meeting a very nice Swedish speaking shoe shiner, Ricardo, that sweet talked me into getting my sneaker cleaned. Turned out he and his mate where working for Svalorna, a Swedish charity. Very nice encounter! All the shoe shiners wear black ski masks due to social stigma, so its a bit odd to talk Swedish to a guy who you can only see the eyes to, cleaning your shoes in Bolivia!

La Paz

Walking home, parched and tired after too many beers the night before, I suggested to Sara that we ought to cross the road to get into the shade. Sara dutifully did so, and stepped into the path of a mini van. It was a bit of a shock watching her getting thrown around, but she stood up, no scratches, just a bruised ass. The minivan was luckily driving slowly at the time, was very concerned, but she was ok, only a bruised pride…

La Paz

We are going to enjoy the homecooking here at the hostel again tonight, before going to Copacobana tomorrow, then onto Peru and Cuzco.

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